Guest Column | July 24, 2015

The Problem With Electronic Signatures In The Medical Office

Electronic Signatures In The Medical Office

By Stephanie Cuomo, RN, Senior Risk Management & Patient Safety Specialist at CAP

As the popularity of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) has risen, so has the confusion revolving around the Electronic Signature. The following excerpts from the California Physicians Legal Handbook (CPLH) are intended to address a few of the issues regarding how to handle the issue of the Electronic Signature. For more comprehensive information, please consult the CPLH, published by the California Medical Association, for additional details or consult your risk management specialist.

On October 1, 2000, the “eSign Law” was enacted, thus eliminating the legal barriers to the use of Electronic Signatures. This federal law is a permissive law, allowing the use of Electronic Signatures, but not mandating their use in any way.

An Electronic Signature is defined by law as, “An electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record” (15 U.S.C. §7006, Civil Code 1633.2(h). A Digital Signature is a type of Electronic Signature that uniquely identifies the signatory and authenticates the digital message or document with a digital code. There are different types of Digital Signatures, but the technology is designed to use encryption techniques to perform two tasks...

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